MTK and the Prodigal Son

Amish fiction, Amish Holidays Comments: 8

Murder Tightly KnitHave you heard my good news? Murder Tightly Knit is now available in stores and on-line. You should be able to find it where ever books are sold.

So how many of you have perfect family visiting for the holidays? Yeah. I know. Somewhere someone is thinking the same thing about me. Family is precious, and the holidays is a very special time to visit with one another. But families are not perfect.

I’ve always loved the story of the prodigal son (Luke, chapter 15 if you want to re-read it). I love how it talks about real people with real problems. I love how the father waits for the son, then runs toward him when he sees him in the distance. I adore the way the father wraps him in a hug and puts a robe around his shoulders and a ring on his finger. I love how the father longs to celebrate with others–because his son who was lost is found.

giftsIf you read Murder Tightly Knit closely, you’ll find the story of the prodigal son. I think this parable Jesus told is one that a lot of us can relate to, and I wanted to include it in my story of the Amish in Middlebury, Indiana. I wanted to try and describe the love and relief of the parents, the frustration of the other brother, and the repentance of the son.

Murder Tightly Knit is my gift to you this holiday season. I hope that within its pages, you will once again glimpse the grace and love of our Savior.

Blessings,

V

ps – lots of sales are going on this week in the ebook format. Several of my books are below $3, so check Amazon, B&N, or your favorite vendor.

Christmas Memories

Christmas stories Comments: 8

v&cIsn’t it funny that we spend so much time looking for the perfect gift and attempting to create the perfect meal? When I look back, my favorite Christmas memories do not center around a specific present or an outstanding dinner (though I love my mother’s cooking). I guess my favorite Christmas memories all involve the people in my life.

This picture is of my son and I, on our way home from Dallas one Christmas. Yeah, Texas weather was warm that year. Many of my memories focus around people–

  • the way my dad would laugh as he handed out presents,
  • going to my grandparents on Christmas eve,
  • my son as a toddler, playing with the BOX his present came in,
  • midnight Christmas eve services in my husband’s hometown.

My mind is filled with many such memories, and yes I realize that I’m lucky to have had such a blessed life. Of course there were not-so-happy Christmas days, but somehow those memories fade behind the better ones. Perhaps that’s one of the blessings of getting older!

So today I thought we’d all share one of our favorite Christmas memories. You never know when something you share might encourage another person who is having a difficult year. So how about it? Do you have a favorite Christmas memory?

Blessings,

Vannetta

Christmas Gifts

Amish fiction, Amish Holidays, crafts

Is your tree up yet? Mine is NOT, but my sister is visiting this weekend, and I’m hoping she’ll help. Okay, I’m actually hoping she’ll put it up for me.

This week, I thought we’d talk about Christmas gifts — if you like Amish fiction, then you are probably trying to simplify your life in some way at least some of the time. So how can we simplify Christmas? What sort of gifts can we give that will let people know how much we care, but not break the bank?

I have a few suggestions, and then you can tell me your ideas

1. Crafts.101385429.jpg.rendition.largest-2 I know that many of us are not “crafty,” and even if we are most crafts require you to have started already. Plus they can be expensive. Here’s an idea from Better Homes and Garden. Pretty simple and I think kids and teens would love this – and you could decorate it for boys or girls. You could do the letter of their first name or their last name or their school mascot!

2. Food. One of my favorite “crafts” is cookies in a jar. Here’s an example from Nestle. You can vary this for the type of cookie you like. The idea is that all the dry ingredients go in the jar. And you can find canning jars at Wa32260lrglmart now, which is nice. What I like about this is you can make a bunch at once, and they come out to be fairly inexpensive. And you know young families today would like to cook homemade cookies, but they’re pulled in a thousand different directions. So save them some time – and make them cookies in a jar.

3. Letters. Have you thought about writing letters to your loved ones? Tell them what you love and admire about them. Tell them what you thought the first time you saw them. Tell them a favorite memory. Letters are so precious, especially in our day and age when most people send emails or texts.

4. Heirloom. Do you have something special that you’ve always wanted a son or daughter to have? Wrap it up and put a note with it telling them why it’s special. My mother gave my niece some items from my dad’s time in the military. My niece treasures those and made a special “grandpa” corner in her house!

So what are some ideas that you have? What simple, inexpensive gifts have you given that people enjoyed? I would love to hear ideas from you.

Blessings,

V

 

Christmas Books

Amish fiction, Christmas stories

The Christmas Season and BOOKS

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We’re still eating turkey sandwiches around here. Leftovers is one of the best parts of the Thanksgiving meal. Don’t you agree?

I thought for the next few weeks we could look at ways to honor the season. Some of us are playing Christmas music right after Halloween. For others, it’s a bit of a struggle to “get in the mood.” So christmas saletoday, I wanted to look at some Christmas books and then in the comment section maybe you could add the title of a book you would recommend. I imagine we can come up with quite a list!

A Simple Amish Christmas and The Christmas Quilt are two Christmas books that I wrote. They are available in print or ebook, and I’m offering a sale on them today and tomorrow. If you haven’t read these, I encourage you to give them a try! Writing them certainly put me in the mood for the season.

My friend, Lynette Sowell has a new Christmas novella out that is only 99 cents in ebook. It’s titled, Comfort and Joy. Lynette sent me a description:

Comfortandjoycover2

When Gwynn Michaud’s spruce tree is chosen to be the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, she’s delighted. Her late husband’s family had planted the tree when he was but a boy. Gwynn’s delight turns to surprise when her adult children give her a special Christmas gift — a trip from New Hampshire to the Big Apple for the tree lighting. She’s the guest of her daughter’s former college roommate, a Manhattan attorney, and the woman’s curmudgeonly father. Theophilus Stellakis keeps his routines like clockwork and isn’t into big and loud Christmas celebrations, with all the trimmings. Yet Gwynn’s presence in his life, even for a short time, disrupts his world in a most pleasant way. Gwynn’s passion for art is rekindled in the city. However, Christmas romance isn’t always enough to last the rest of the year, let alone a lifetime. Or, is it?

61UUHgffS+L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Many of you know Sherry Gore. Her new cookbook, Me, Myself, and Pie is a wonderful way to enjoy the season–and it would also make a nice gift for someone else.

Sherry lives in Pinecraft, FL, and her daughter, Jacinda, is struggling with a life-threatening disease. Actually she’s been on hospice care for some time. Whether you’re able to purchase Sherry’s book or not, please take a moment to pray for this dear woman and her daughter.

So those are my 3 suggestions. What about you? What Christmas books have you read that you can recommend to others?

Blessings,

Vannetta

 

A Plain & Simple Thanksgiving

Amish fiction, Amish Holidays

DSCN4918It’s amazing to me how popular Amish books are. I’m often asked “why” and the best answer I have is that many of us are a bit overwhelmed. We like the simplicity of the Amish life–the lack of traffic jams, ringing phones, blaring televisions, and mega-shopping. We like the idea that life can/could be simpler.

So what about Thanksgiving? Do the Amish celebrate it? YES, they do. Is there celebration different than ours? Probably. Here are a few differences. Remember, my observations are from visiting with Amish in Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Oklahoma. You may have experienced something different.

  1. The Amish do join with other family members to celebrate Thanksgiving.
  2. They don’t travel far though–only family members who live nearby get together. In general, Amish don’t “go home” for the holidays . . . but of course they do stay in touch via letters, etc.
  3. They don’t purchase a lot of pre-cooked items.
  4. They usually have a devotional time on the morning of Thanksgiving.
  5. Everyone contributes to the meal–one person doesn’t try to do it all.
  6. Afterwards, they play games or visit (remember–there are no televisions in the home).
  7. There are lots of folks helping with the clean-up after the meal.

Kind of simple. Right? Yeah, I like that too. I hope that this holiday season, you are able to find the plain and simple joys that come from your family, friends and faith.

Blessings,

V

Giving Thanks

inspiration

Cozy autumnHave you seen the Facebook Thanksgiving Challenge that’s going around? I think it’s an awesome thing. Folks are challenged to be grateful each day of November and post a short “status update” of thanksgiving each day.

Whether you’re doing this challenge or not . . .

Whether you use social media or not . . .

I’m going to challenge you to go beyond that.  Years ago I took a writing course that was supposed to help us to set and meet goals. The first thing the teacher (Margie Lawson) encouraged us to do was start a journal. (You’re groaning if you’re not a “journal-er” and you’re clapping your hands if you are.) It’s much simpler than you think.

Buy a 79 cent spiral notebook. I prefer the smaller ones rather than the full size pages.  A full size page is WAY too big. Each morning when you get up, take the time to write the date, how many hours you slept, and five things you’re grateful for. If you want, under that you can put your goals for the day. Writing how much you’re sleeping helps you to see if you’re running behind and need to go to bed early! But the key is the gratitude. It takes 5-10 minutes and it will focus your day in ways that will surprise you.

This isn’t a new idea. Is it? This didn’t all start in 1621 at Plymouth. It didn’t even start in 1863 when President Lincoln made it an official holiday. Nope, I’m pretty sure it started with King David.

“Give thanks to the lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.” ~Psalm 118:29

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving.” ~Psalm 69:30

Open your Bible to the Psalms, or read them here. Over and again, David reminds us to give thanks. So this year, instead of a November challenge, how about we make a life-long challenge to be grateful — truly grateful — for all that God has done. How about it. Are you up to the challenge?

blessings,

V

Thanksgiving Grace

Amish Holidays, Amish view, Christian living

Three Cute Thanksgiving and Harvest vertical BannersToday I wanted to write to you about GRACE and how we can extend it to our families. I don’t mean the kind of grace like you say before a meal, though those are good too! I’m talking about offering something special to your family this holiday season.

Wikipedia defines grace as the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it.” That’s an awesome definition. I’ve always thought of grace as “unmerited favor.” You don’t earn it. You receive it. And you can offer it to others.

Have you ever noticed that some people get tense if you even mention the holidays? I’ve seen people groan, roll their eyes, change the subject, even reach for more chocolate. I’ve been guilty of a few of those things! I think there are a lot of reasons for this, but the primary one is that life is complicated. Right? Kids grow up, move to different places, have various obligations. Not to mention the pressure to have the “perfect meal” or “perfect day” is incredible.

So how about we offer each other GRACE instead? We can say and believe that “it’s okay.” Can’t make it for dinner? Not a problem–because we know you love us. Have other obligations? Not a problem! Burned the turkey? Heat up a pizza!!!!

Part of the reason we respect the Amish is they are able to keep these things in perspective. This holiday season, we could step back, take a deep breath and thank the Lord for our blessings, and then we perhaps we can find the courage to offer one another GRACE. And if you really enjoy making the traditional dinner, and are worried your family can’t come, then ask folks at your church. Be a special blessing to someone else.

Hugs,

V

ps – the winner of the cancer wall hanging and book was RUTH SMITH. All of your comments really touched my heart. A big thank you to everyone who entered, and stay tuned for more give-aways!

 

 

October Hobbies

Amish fiction, Quilting

It seems that my hobbies change in October. As the evenings grow colder, I want to work on quilting or crocheting–anything that puts a warm blanket in my lap!

As some of you know, I’m a NEW quilter. So I’m not very skilled yet, and that’s okay. I realize it’s a learning process, and I’m very much enjoying it. The above blanket is something I put together for Project Linus. I loved the Kitty fabric, and I wanted to try brightening it up with some rick-rack and a nice satin boarder. It’s not my finest work, but I think a child will enjoy it. And that’s sort of the Amish way. Don’t you think? To make things which are a gift for others–not perfect gifts, but heartfelt gifts. It’s a simple way to say that we care.

Not everyone enjoys crafts. I understand that! October evenings are also a good time to curl up with a book or watch an old movie. Maybe put on that coat and go for a twilight walk.

How do you spend your October evenings?

V

ps – there’s still time to enter last week’s drawing. I’ll randomly pull a name next Wednesday and contact the winner. Then I’ll post it here on our next Saturday post. Details for the drawing are here.

October Give-away

Amish fiction, Contest

A Give-away for YOU

It’s been a while since we’ve had a give-away. What was I thinking? Let’s make up for it today. Since it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, I thought I’d give away this little wall hanging and your choice of books. The wall hanging is done in pretty pinks and has a nice HOPE border at the top. It’s only 19″ x 14″, but it would be nice to put on a table top or hang on the wall.

All you have to do to be entered is comment below. Maybe you could offer encouragement to those who are battling cancer. If you’d like to be entered TWICE, hit the re-tweet button at the bottom, share on Facebook or Pinterest, or email a friend. Then leave a 2nd comment that you’ve done so, and you’ll be entered twice!

Thanks so much. We’ll randomly draw a winner in a week.

Blessings,

V

ps – My latest release HIDDEN is still available in ebook for only $3.99 and print for $10. CLICK HERE for more information.

Fall Colors

Amish fiction, Texas

Colors in a Texas Fall

Well I’m cheating a little bit. These are pictures from the Texas coast–so I don’t know how “fall” they are, but we went last week and had a wonderful time. I was researching a book titled, “Josua’s Mission,” and I’m super excited about it. Yes, it’s Amish and it’s a romance, but it’s also a book that will highlight how the Amish participate in mission work across the United States and beyond.

I had some good news last week. BOTH of my publishers was new proposals from me. So whether you prefer Amish mystery, Amish romance, or romantic suspense – I’d love to hear what YOU would like to read about. Any good story ideas that you want to share with me? I am ALL ears.

Here’s hoping that you are having a wonderful October.

Blessings,

V

ps – Hidden now has 23 five star reviews on Amazon. The ebook is still $3.99 and the print book is $9.64 on Amazon. If you have a moment, check it out!